Lake Washington School District committee selects new elementary math curriculum

The Lake Washington School District (LWSD) Elementary Math Adoption Committee has unanimously selected enVision Math, published by Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley, as its recommendation, with the goal of implementing the new curriculum at the start of the 2010-11 school year.

The Lake Washington School District (LWSD) Elementary Math Adoption Committee has unanimously selected enVision Math, published by Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley, as its recommendation, with the goal of implementing the new curriculum at the start of the 2010-11 school year.

This was one of two programs piloted in nearly every district elementary school this spring. Another possible choice had been Math Connects (McMillan-McGraw Hill). According to LWSD communications director Kathryn Reith, the district’s Instructional Materials Committee (IMC) has had the materials for both potential curricula since April 1 and will vote on the selection tomorrow, April 29.

If approved by the IMC, the materials will be presented to the LWSD Board of Directors at its May 3 meeting. However, Reith said the board will not vote on the adoption until the May 17 meeting so that the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the final recommendation before the vote. The materials are on display at the LWSD Resource Center, 16250 NE 74th St. in Redmond, through May 17.

If adopted, enVision Math would be the first new elementary math curriculum since 1999.

Some critics of the existing elementary math curriculum, especially an activist group called “Where’s the Math?” have described it as “fuzzy math,” saying that it does not include enough focus on basic math facts and formulas.

We asked Reith which features of the enVision Math curriculum might counteract that negative perception and why the new curriculum would seem better suited to helping young students grasp fundamental math concepts.

Reith explained some differences between enVision Math and the old curriculum.

“There are student books at every grade level. There are explicit lessons in the book with models and examples of what is being taught, which makes it easier for parents to help,” said Reith. “The last curriculum provided materials in units with worksheets that did not have the background information of what had already been taught in class.”

Also, Reith noted, “There are resources available on the Web to help students and their parents when they get stuck doing homework.”

In addition, said Reith, “This curriculum better aligns with the current mathematics strands that include concepts, procedures and problem-solving. The procedures include immediate recall of basic facts in all operations — addition, subtraction, multiplication, division — and fluency in standard ways of solving problems.”

In a press release about the two final curricula choices, Matt Manobianco, director of teaching and learning at the LWSD and chair of the elementary math adoption committee, commented, “Both curricula do an excellent job of helping students understand math concepts and compute accurately, but when it came to the final decision, enVision Math was a better fit in helping students also learn the kind of problem-solving and thinking skills called for in our district’s student profile.”

As well, Manobianco noted that the committee rated enVision Math higher on its balance of computational, conceptual and problem-solving skills. The committee felt the organization and design of the materials was clear and easy to use for teachers, students and parents, as well as offering online activities and resources which students and parents could access at home.

The committee also considered but did not select Bridges In Mathematics (The Math Learning Center) and Math Expressions (Houghton Mifflin-Harcourt) among four final curricula.

During the month of January, parents were able to attend four public meetings or review the possible curricula online or in person at the district offices. Parents were invited to complete a survey providing feedback about the curricula choices.

The 43-member LWSD Elementary Math Adoption Committee includes representatives from all elementary schools and district programs, including Preschool, English Language Learner (ELL), General Education, Special Education, Safety Net and Gifted. Three district-level administrators and seven elementary principals also serve on the committee. Math Content and Technology Integration Specialists are also included.

For more information about the Elementary Mathematics Adoption process, visit http://www.lwsd.org/News/Elementary-Math-Adoption/Pages/default.aspx

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